Hollywood movies are magical because they take the viewers to amazing places without leaving their seats, spinning alternate realities for audiences of places that often don’t even exist.
But, there are some places that do exist in real life, and you can visit them all across the United States.
The iconic 1976 movie of a nobody boxer turned hero who goes the distance against the tough Apollo Creed was a knockout hit and turned Sylvester Stallone into a movie star. It also turned the Philadelphia Museum of Art into an international sensation when Rocky, training hard for the fight, used the 72 steps to prove he could take on the challenge.
The steps are now often referred to as the “Rocky Steps” and visitors from around the world stop at the museum just to walk up the steps, never entering the museum itself.
Thelma and Louise
This 1991 film features two housewives turned unintended outlaws who end it all in a dramatic drive over the edge of the Grand Canyon. In addition to earning both Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis Best Actress Oscar nominations, it was the breakout role for Brad Pitt.
The famous Grand Canyon scene was filmed at Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah, and park tourists can look up the exact location online and visit it, though there are no official markers, for various reasons.
Just saying the name of the movie gets the adrenaline flowing. Steven Spielberg set the thriller in a fictional New England town where a great white shark is menacing the town. The film was largely filmed on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, a sleepy fishing and resort town in Massachusetts.
Since the filming, the island has had a significant and sustained increase in tourism, but guests of the island will immediately recognize sites from the movie, since little has changed in the more than forty years since the original film’s release.
An instant sensation, Ghostbusters is a goofy supernatural comedy that takes place in New York City. As the trio of ghostbusters need a new business location, they take over an abandoned fire station. The station is the real life home to Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8, a part of the New York City Fire Department. The building’s exterior was used in the film but interior shots were done mostly in California. Nonetheless, the site is a quirky but popular tourist site in the city.
It is also known for its firefighters being among the first to respond to the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.
A Christmas Story
A cult Christmas classic, A Christmas Story tells the tale of a young boy who wants an air rifle for Christmas, but is told by every adult that “you’ll shoot your eye out, kid”. This film is a holiday tradition, largely because it provides an idealized view of Christmas through the eyes of children and portrays the dynamics of a realistic if not ridiculous American family.
The movie was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1983, and has the perfect home to portray an all-American family. The home, so integral to the movie’s plot, has been turned into a museum dedicated to the movie, and you can even buy souvenirs including a Major Award Leg Lamp and a full body bunny suit!
The second installment of The Hunger Games focused on the tributes’ living quarters, which was an elaborate and breathtaking facility in Panem.
In real life, many of the scenes were shot at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.
The hotel’s breathtaking atrium and glass elevators were the perfect location for the pivotal scenes in the movie. Several other scenes were filmed in and around Atlanta, providing any fan days of touring and reliving the exiting scenes from the movie.
Field of Dreams
The 1989 tale of a man compelled to build a baseball field in his corn field in Iowa is now a sports classic, bringing back feelings of nostalgia for one’s youth, relationships with loved ones and memories of childhood dreams left unfulfilled.
The farms where much of the movie was filmed, including the house and baseball stadium, have been preserved as a tourist destination. Admission is free and guided tours are provided with a reservation. The local community is very involved in preserving the magic of the story and there are often interactive experiences available for visitors to the site.
Whether you’re a die hard movie fan or just happen to be in an area where any of these movies were filmed, you should take the time to visit the sites. It will be a fun experience, especially if you sit down to watch the movie again after seeing it in real life!